Saturday, December 3, 2011

grumpy to garland to glad

A couple weeks ago I realized Thanksgiving was a lot closer than I thought, and with its impending arrival, so would quickly follow Christmas. You'd think I would have been clued in by the store decorations and such, but since most of them began pulling out the red and green in July, you can understand how I might have lost track of time. And for the first time in my life, I became irritated at the thought of Christmas.

I was irritated that just as I was beginning to feel organized and clean, I was going to have to haul out a ton of decorations and turn my house upside down decking the halls. I was irritated that I needed to buy gifts for ungrateful children. But mostly, I was irritated that it felt like we had just barely had Christmas so the past year has seemed to vanish as if it was just a daydream. And then I got depressed because I can't possibly live my life like this - from Christmas to Christmas, decorating and putting things away, wondering where the time went.

So I took a deep breath and told myself I'd handle it after Thanksgiving and it would be great, but in the meantime I should make sure to pay attention to the events around the big day of gratitude so I wouldn't wonder what happened to it.

Something about eating 7 (kinds of) pies helps balance my chi. Our Thanksgiving company was barely out of sight when I tackled beds and sheets and began ordering children around with the promise that a clean house would get Christmas decorations. I figured out how to access Pandora on our Blu-ray player and pulled out some hot chocolate. I was going to make merry, dang it!

I spent a lot of time fluffing garland and wreaths. As I pulled and arranged and frowned and rearranged, I thought of my Grandma whose love of all things Christmas was (probably still is) unsurpassed. I looked at the mantle over our fireplace that holds a small collection of Santas that were part of a much bigger collection when she was alive. Grandma made Christmas. You couldn't help but get caught up in her excitement and enthusiasm. Cleoma did Christmas with pizazz.

Camera photo of 4 of my Santas.
The one on the right was her very first Santa.
It was $2 and she couldn't afford the matching Mrs. Claus. 

As I thought of her, I thought of how she'd probably wrinkle her nose say, "Now Sarah," and then point her right index finger at me - the one that was a little fatter at the tip with a weirdly smaller fingernail because as a girl she stuck it in a washing basin tub that was spinning and her fingertip got sliced off (sorry for that sidetrack - but that finger was mesmerizing) - and say, "You need to have fun. Find the fun, and give your kids a Christmas to make me proud." (there might have been a well-placed "dammit" in there)

That finger had a way of making you do stuff. Usually it was just washing your hands for the umpteenth time or promising you wouldn't have sex before you got married. But never doubt the power of a pointing Grandma.

I've managed to get my shopping spreadsheet in order (it's a science, people. anyone who DOESN'T do a huge matrix for who is giving what to whom and who is getting what so the gifts are even and there aren't doubles and you know what is in the stocking and what is on display and what is wrapped is a Christmas amateur. and I have a legacy to uphold here.) and put up all of the decorations except the tree. After seeing that it was going to snow last week, we bought our 8 foot Noble tree the day before the storm hit to save us from hauling a wet/frozen tree home. Joel got the lights on the house and I put the lights in the bushes. I have Christmas music playing for most of the day and I'm trying my best to keep the house filled with the scent of baking (even when I'm not baking, thank you Scentsy).

Last night, as the kids were downstairs not cleaning up the family room, I went upstairs with a few strings of lights and strung them across dressers and around headboards and over pictures. Then I folded laundry as I waited for them to come back upstairs. I knew Ainsleigh had reached her room because I heard a little gasp and a quiet, "!" (I have the ears of a bat, you know)(and she has the exclamations of an 80-year-old) and then she was racing into my room and throwing her arms around my waist and squealing, "Oh THANK YOU MOMMY! I LOVE it!" I made her promise not to tell Donovan so he would discover his room on his own, and a few minutes later he came up. "WHAT THE...? MOM?" and then, as if he had known what Ainsleigh had done, he was running into my room and throwing his arms around me and saying, "I've always wanted lights in my room! Thank you so much!" Later, when Gemma walked into her room, dimly lit from a strand of old Christmas lights so it took on a pinkish tint, her eyes were big and she began tiptoeing (so as not to wake them? I don't know) to the center. She slowly turned around to survey the whole room and then whispered (I was standing in the doorway this time), "My room is boo-tiful! Thank you for making my room boo-tiful, Mommy!" I was hoping they would like it. But I didn't anticipate just how MUCH they would love it. And that's how my heart grew three times...

As a parent, you often do stuff you don't want to or don't enjoy. But you do it because you're the parent. Christmas shouldn't be like that. Christmas should be about creating an environment of memories that will one day snap your own kids out of a bad mood so they can give their kids a magical Christmas. Because that's what kids deserve. That's what Cleoma would want. And anyone who knew Cleoma (and that freaky awesome finger) knows Cleoma got what she wanted (I may have inherited a wee bit there).


PaloAltoCougar said...

Somewhere, your grandma is smiling. There are few greater moments in parents' or grandparents' lives than when they look at their progeny and realize, "Hey, they get it!" You get it.

Sarah Burgoyne said...

We have a matrix spreedsheet too! Only way to go :) Also, I think I would have like to meet Grandma Cleoma.

Laurie said...

You've inspired me to put lights up in rooms! I imagine your house is a Christmas Wonderland!